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Review of "If You Were Here"
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Not quite a laugh on every page, "If You Were Here" reflects clearly the author's intention to keep readers smiling--or at the very least nodding in recognition as main characters Mia and Mac slog their way through the process of becoming owners
Mia and Mac are a married couple who long for a goon-free neighborhood without drive-bys or their landlord, Vienna, who has no comprehension of renters' right to privacy.
When their search for a home leads them to the Chicago lakeside house used to film "Sixteen Candles," Mia is sold. No matter what's wrong with the house, she envisions the movie characters in the front room and hears the Thompson Twins singing
The fact that the house requires almost complete renovation is concerning, but not a deal breaker. Mia wants the neighborhood, land, view and house--regardless of its condition.
Mac is reluctant until he finds the panic room--it's cool, and he's sold.
The couple's fruitless efforts to find a reliable contractor to do the renovations is amusing. Unfortunately, they decide to tackle the renovations themselves, even though they have no real home repair experience.
The process strains their bank account and relationship. The need to merely change an exterior light bulb prompts Mac to make numerous trips to Home Depot as the job grows exponentially
Their travails can be exasperating to read about, but who can't relate?
Lancaster's tone is light and humorous, with a punch line at every turn. Her style of writing is quick, but the pace is broken by her heavy use of short footnotes to insert additional remarks. After each footnote reference, the reader must find his or her place again on most pages.
"If You Were Here" is certainly entertaining, but
Perhaps the author's intent is for readers to rejoice that they don't have Mia and Mac's continuing struggles, multiple mortgages and nasty neighbors. Everyone can safely enjoy a good laugh at fictional characters.
Diane Makovsky is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.
IF YOU WERE HEREBy Jen Lancaster(Penguin, $24.95, 320 pp.)